5 Ways to Foster Gratitude All Year Round

Ever feel like you don’t have enough? You’re not alone. In this era of Insta-bragging, Facebook envy and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, many of us consciously or unconsciously compare ourselves to friends, neighbors and even celebrities – then beat ourselves up for not having as much as they appear to have. Fortunately, there’s a powerful antidote to comparing and despairing: gratitude. According to UC Davis Psychology Professor Robert Emmons (who also happens to be the world’s leading expert on the science of gratitude), cultivating an attitude of gratitude can increase happiness levels by as much as 25 percent while also encouraging self-esteem, hope, empathy and optimism.

Here are five easy ways to foster a sense of gratitude in your home this Thanksgiving – and all year round:

1. Count Your Blessings

It’s often easy to overlook the small things in life we should be grateful for. Writing a daily list of five simple things you’re thankful for — like your health, family, friends, a cup of coffee or a good night’s sleep — is an easy way to stay grounded and focused on abundance rather than scarcity. Sharing that list with friends and family members helps you remember all you have, and can inspire thankfulness in others. Try going around the dinner table this year and having everyone state a few, small things they’re grateful for this Thanksgiving.

2. Remember to Say “Thank You” Sincerely and Often

On any given day, most of us are presented with tons of opportunities to say “thank you” to someone – from the Uber driver to the supermarket cashier to the barista at your regular coffee shop. While it’s easy to take those in service positions for granted (especially when you’re in a hurry), taking a moment to show your appreciation is an easy way to make someone feel special. Bonus: When your kids see you saying “thank you” all the time, they’ll be more inclined to do it themselves.

3. Accentuate the Positive – Especially When You Don’t Want To

It’s human nature to see the glass half empty from time to time – especially during the holiday season when your plate is filled with planning Thanksgiving dinner menus, handling family visits, attending parties and buying gifts. But when you find yourself wanting to complain about something, it’s helpful to remember that we can always choose to look on the bright side of any situation. An attitude of gratitude is all about choosing perspective over circumstance. Or to put it another way, there are no victims – only volunteers.

4. Give Back

It may sound clichéd, but it really does feel better to give than to receive. Whether it’s running errands for an elderly neighbor or volunteering at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving, being of service to those who really need your help is a great way to cultivate a sense of appreciation for all that you have – from your family to your income to a roof over your head.

5. Write Thank-You Notes

Given the prominence of email and texting these days, the idea of writing thank-you notes may seem a bit antiquated. But when it comes to showing just how grateful you are for someone who has given you a present or done something special for you, an email or text hardly compares to a handwritten note. Not only will you make that person’s day, but you’ll also reinforce your own sense of gratitude for whatever was given. And if you have kids, you’ll set a powerful example by taking the time for writing and sending thank-you notes on a frequent basis.

So when you’re remembering all you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving, consider adopting an attitude of gratitude all year long. It won’t cost you anything, and it’s likely to make you at least 25 percent happier!

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